From Endurance to Dressage
It doesn't matter how many times I write those words, I still find days where they mean something even more than the day before. I am either the world's slowest learner, or the idea of leg to hand is just as complicated as the words half halt. I am going with the latter.
I haven't had a lot to say about Izzy over the past few weeks. We've been working, but we seem to have hit a new stage in our working relationship. On the ground, he is in my pocket, sometimes literally. Under saddle, we're dealing with something old that feels like something new.
He finally has some length to his stride and his back is moving, but he is now locked onto that bit like he thinks it's actually going to hold him up. Dude, you're 1,350 pounds to my 124 - ain't no way I am holding you up! The other thing I am wrestling with is his wayward right shoulder which is actually great since that's the same issue I have with Speedy. I now get to work on it ALL. THE. TIME.
For so long, my rides were about getting Izzy to let go over his top line so that he could stretch down. Once that was mostly happening, I was able to ask for a bigger stride. I recently realized that we're now past stretching forward and downward as the primary goal. The emphasis now needs to be on suppleness from his jaw to his poll to his withers. That's the old that feels like something new.
While last night's ride started out as frustrating, I quickly changed my goal from encouraging strictly relaxation (there has to be some relaxation after all) to being supple in his neck. I wanted to be able to get right or left flexion whenever I wanted it. It took nearly an hour, but he started to give it to me.
The difficulty is that he wants to be spooky which means strong reins on my part to keep him from veering off - usually to the right. I also had to use the whip to make my leg aid loud enough for him to hear. Eventually, I brought everything back down to a walk so that I could control the forward while insisting with my leg/whip that he step OVER.
After he realized that spooking in the same corner that he's passed through a bazillion times wasn't getting him anything but the leg/whip combo, I was able to get some interesting work done. Essentially, I bent him to the inside to put him on the outside rein, and then I added leg to send him forward and sideways, first in leg yield then in half pass all while changing the bend. Leg to hand. Leg to hand. Leg to hand.
He never makes things easy, but for a thinking rider, he'll give you plenty of puzzles to solve. I just put one more piece in the puzzle.
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: